In Starlet, Baker gave up the cinematographer reigns to Radium Cheung and the result was his most visually refined film yet. This teaming up is a major turning point. Baker’s own cinematography on his first two films was rough but sharp, creating beauty out of of-the-moment documentary-style shaky cam with a consciousness—but Cheung finds a refined balance between the realism that has always driven Baker, and a more rigorous formal approach tailored to the subject of the films.
Starlet is a film of small, humane gestures set within a world extreme displays of physicality. And yet what we’re left with isn’t images of exploitation or perversity, but ones of warmth and camaraderie. And in that sense, the film is one of the most unexpectedly moving love stories American cinema has given us in quite some time.
While Starlet mostly hits the right notes, I will disagree with most of my esteemed colleagues on a minor point. Although Stella Maeve’s performance as Melissa is commendable, I find her character as a roommate from hell, a strung-out, bitchy, unreliable, drug-addicted porn starlet to be on the trite side of cliché.
I'm reviewing this film again because I feel like it deserves it. Before Tangerine, Sean Baker directed another non-explotive movie about female friendship and sex workers. Starlet is flawless. It's definitely one of those movies I went in expecting nothing extraordinary and getting blown away with how beautiful it is. It's now on netflix so please check it out! In my opinion, one of the most underrated indies
When a young porn actress befriends an 85-year-old reclusive widow, you can't really know what to expect. Besedka Johnson (RIP), made this her first and last film, and she was phenomenal! Dree Hemingway (Ernest Hemingway's great grand daughter) is sublime and portrayed her character so convincingly, with a brush of spunk and grace. "Starlet" is visually stunning, riveting, and emotionally pleasing. I am blown away.
Although this movie is not my type of movie, it became my type of movie. I think of California as a sunny place full of empty people. Jane is a nothing person, but her roommates are less than zero. I was seduced by the camera work, which reveals mostly the spaces between the people rather than the people. The only thing that's real is Sadie, and she helps Jane become something more.
Disarmingly powerful film about a young porn actress who discovers thousands of dollars in a thermos she buys from an old woman at a yard sale. When her moral conundrum turns into a strange friendship with grumpy and lonely old woman, the two find in each other a kinship that neither could have expected. Sean Baker's neorealist style adds truth to this engaging and deeply moving work.
This is totally my kind of movie. I've always had an affection for films that focus on unconventional relationships; friendships between people of different ages, backgrounds etc. Saw this soon after it was released and fell in love. Will always be one of my favourites.
When cute chihuahuas and porn meet, magic happens. Even when psycho roommate Melissa is plotting how to break this wonderful bond between porn-actress Jane and 85 year-old Sadie, all those pale yellows and puppy frames create a soothing vibe. I felt really peaceful and calmed every time Starlet (Sean Bakers's real -and apparently narcoleptic- dog, Boone) was taking a nap in the most unlikely places and situations.
It's all in the way Baker fills in location - every space of this film feeling lived-in, of course the naturalistic performances, but the apartments, office, bingo hall etc. I was moved by the slow reveal of the profession, a non-defining trait, and the way the (2indie) score didn't occupy the same headspace as the characters. Very endearing.